Heartbreak as Gosport dad dies of meningitis

Gary and Claire Mansbridge with their children Alice and Hayden. Below, Claire and Alice
Gary and Claire Mansbridge with their children Alice and Hayden. Below, Claire and Alice
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HEARTBROKEN Claire Mansbridge has told of her shock after her husband Gary died suddenly from meningitis.

The 40-year-old, from Gosport, fell ill before Christmas suffering from what appeared to be a cold. But days later, he developed an ear ache then a neck ache.

Gary and Claire Mansbridge with their children Alice and Hayden. Below, Claire and Alice

Gary and Claire Mansbridge with their children Alice and Hayden. Below, Claire and Alice

Now Claire wants to warn others to keep an eye out for possible symptoms of the illness.

The 36-year-old said: ‘It was totally unexpected.

‘It was a real shock because Gary went from having a cold then ear ache to being unresponsive in a few days.

‘I would have never thought it was meningitis. It would have never entered my mind to Google what the symptoms are for that.

‘He just had a cold. As far as we knew, nothing pointed towards meningitis.’

Gary was taking Sudafed for his cold but when his ear started to ache and painkillers didn’t help, he went to the doctors.

Claire said: ‘I took him to the doctors on the Monday and although he was in a lot of pain, he was walking and talking.

‘We saw a nurse and she confirmed he had an ear infection and gave him antibiotics.’

But early hours Tuesday morning, he started being sick.

Claire dialled 111 and when a doctor phoned back, they said he may have the wrong antibiotics causing the sickness.

That morning, Claire phoned the doctors’ explaining the situation and the nurse phoned back using the triage system which scores patients on their illnesses and diagnoses them on the phone.

After hearing the problems, the nurse said Gary had vertigo – a rare condition affecting the inner ear.

Another set of antibiotics was prescribed for him but on Wednesday, his health deteriorated and the pain from his ear went to his neck.

Claire said: ‘The pain was bad. He was grabbing at his neck it was that painful.’

Claire phoned the doctor’s surgery and pleaded to have a GP come to the house to visit. After he examined Gary, the doctor said an ambulance should be called. On the way to QA Hospital, Gary became unresponsive.

When he arrived, staff suggested he may be suffering with meningitis and put him into an induced coma.

He was then transferred to Southampton General Hospital when his condition failed to improve.

He died on the Saturday leaving Claire and his two children, Hayden, five and Alice, one.

Claire said: ‘Gary will be missed by everyone.

‘He had such an amazing life ahead of him. He loved doing photography and his coffin was blacked out with the London skyline to show how much he loved it.

‘He was into motorbikes too and was always active, keeping fit.

‘Gary had the heart of a 26-year-old even when he turned 40. He loved his two children and got on with everyone.’

Widow has lost her faith in phone system

FOLLOWING the sudden death of her husband, Claire Mansbridge said she has lost faith in the NHS phone triage system.

The system is used by the NHS to assess a patient’s symptoms over the 111 phoneline and agree with them how the illness might be treated.

Claire’s husband Gary died from meningitis after suffering from flu-like symptoms. He was diagnosed using the triage system and was told he had an inner-ear infection. Four days later, he died in hospital.

Claire, 36, said: ‘I have lost faith in the triage system. I feel that if the nurse had come to see him, she might have been able to spot something I couldn’t.

‘When I was telling her Gary’s symptoms, I was only saying what I could see. I am not a trained professional. I will never use this system with my children now.‘

She added that once Gary got to hospital, the staff were really good. ‘The paramedics and the hospital staff were amazing,’ she said.

‘They told us what was happening and gave us hope but not false hope. I couldn’t fault them.’

Chris Complin, the practice manager at Forton, speaking on behalf of the practice, said: ‘We would like to express our sincere condolences to the family, who have suffered a desperately sad loss. Following any significant event a review will take place, and we will seek to identify whether anything at all could have been done to bring about a different outcome, and of course learn from those findings.’

‘People need to be aware of the signs...’

CLAIRE Mansbridge wants to warn others of the danger of meningitis.

Her husband Gary, 40, died from the illness just days after suffering from what he thought was a cold.

Claire now wants to warn others of the symptoms and how quickly it can develop.

The 36-year-old said: ‘When meningitis first became a problem, children, old people and pregnant women were vaccinated and warned about the dangers of it.

‘But now, there seems to be less awareness of it.

‘I’d never have thought that Gary had meningitis because I didn’t know what the symptoms were.

‘You only think to keep an eye out for it with children.

‘But a lot of middle-aged people are being affected. People need to be aware.’

Claire has set up a Just Giving page in Gary’s memory and will be holding fundraisers to raise money for Meningitus UK.

To make a donation visit justgiving.com/claire-mansbridge.

Meningitis symptoms

THERE are two types of meningitis which can occur in adults and children.

Symptoms for bacterial meningitis in adults are:

- a fever with cold hands and feet;

- vomiting;

- drowsiness;

- severe muscle pain;

- stiff neck;

- a severe headache;

- pale, blotchy skin, and a distinctive rash.

Symptoms for viral meningitis in adults are:

- headaches;

- fever;

- neck stiffness;

- nausea and vomiting.